Saturday, August 16, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
To very briefly recap, I started having symptoms in December 2011. I'd have selling and discomfort in my ankles and calves, more pronounced in the left one, and a noticeable loss of range of motion. Shinsplints were the initial diagnosis, with compartment syndrome being the next "option" when my problems didn't really respond to the main treatment of shinsplits (rest). Any time I took a few months off from running, I'd come back and my symptoms would be better, only to come back every time I got back into some consistency of running. That's why I won't know if this surgery worked for a few more months.
At any rate, a compartment pressure test confirmed the diagnosis in Spring 2013, and I tried a long program of PT to avoid surgery. No luck. I had surgery on May 15, 2014.
As I said in that initial post-surgery blog post, I woke up in a fog of post-anesthesia and painkillers, definitely in pain, but not as bad as I feared.
Despite that, those first few days were bad. I frequently felt nauseous from the vicodin, and when I moved my legs, I would feel a tearing sensation in my legs in the area of the surgery. If I touched those areas, they would feel hot to the touch, although I think that burning sensation was in my legs, and not actually heat that I was feeling, since my legs were pretty heavily bandaged at this point. I limped around the house on crutches. I expected to sleep like a rock that first night, but got very little sleep, and because of that I probably crutched my way around the house too much. I had big ice packs that I'd wear over my legs (or wrap around them with velcro as I got a little more able to sleep in different positions) for long stretches of time for the next several weeks.
Still, just two days after my surgery, I was at least out of the house for a quick Dunkin Donuts trip. It probably wasn't worth the discomfort I was in going up and down the stairs or how long it took me to get from the car to Dunkin, but I'd wanted very badly to get out of the house, and my Dr. had said it would be ok to try things like this as long as I was careful.
I'd love to say I got better every day, but there were good days and bad days over the next few weeks. I felt "pretty good" a week after surgery when I went for my post-surgery consult. The doctor said everything looked good and that the procedure had gone well, and that I could start to s l o w l y ween myself from the crutches...which would go more slowly than I'd hoped. I was to start out by trying to get around the house without them, but using them when I went outside.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
As proscribed by venerable C25K, I ran 3x last week: 5 minute warm-up walk followed by 15 minutes of alternating one-minute of running with 90 seconds of walking. It went as well as could be expected. I did my run/walks last Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday. My legs felt good, but I can tell I'm clearly out of shape, as I really had to catch my breath on the walk breaks.
This morning, I did the first workout of week 2: 5 minute warm-up walk, followed by alternating 90 seconds of running with two minutes walking for 15 minutes. Both the running and the walking portions seemed interminably long after week 1.
It's way to early to draw any conclusions about my surgery. I had compartment syndrome. The pressure test quantitatively showed it. What we can't say for sure if it was the sole cause of the problems I was having. I won't be able to tell if I'm "better" until I'm in shape to pretty consistently run at least 2-3 miles a couple times a week. If I get to that point and after a few weeks of it my symptoms aren't present, then I'm all better. If they do, it's back to the drawing board.
However, I think what's going to happen is that I'll wish I'd just have bitten the bullet and had the surgery a year ago.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Two months and a few days ago, I had my bilateral compartment release surgery.
Today, I ran. It felt great. It was the first run of the first week of coolrunning.com's Couch-to-5K Program: 5-mimute walk then alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 15 more minutes.
I felt awesome during the run portions and then very much had to catch my breath during the walks.
It was glorious.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
I really didn't want to have surgery, even though my orthopedist said that it was the most reliable cure for compartment syndrome, so I tried physical therapy. His opinion was that it was worth trying, but he was pessimistic that it would work. It seemed like it worked when I got serious about running again in January...until it didn't, and symptoms returned. I made the decision to have the surgery. I met one more time with my orthopedist, who agreed, naturally, that if I wanted to train for longer races again, that surgery was the best course of action for me.
I met with the surgeon in early April, and he explained that the procedure involves making incisions in the layer of fascia around the muscles in my lower leg compartments, which releases the pressure and should relieve symptoms. He said that was a relatively simple procedure, and that I could have both legs operated on at the same time, which would make my recovery harder, or I could do one after the other, which would make recovery easier because I would have one "good" leg, but would take twice as long to get both legs "fixed". I opted to have compartment release surgery on both legs, and I was scheduled to arrive at Wellspan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital on Thursday at 7:30am for the outpatient procedure.
I arrived, checked in, and was quickly taken back to remove my clothes (even my underpants) and change into a stylish surgical gown, and then put into a bed in a pre-op room to get ready.
As it turned out, my surgery almost didn't happen, because of this little guy:
This is Domo, aka, "The Fun Panther", our crazy little friend, who left an approximately one-inch long scratch ankle-level on my right shin when he jumped over my lap (I had my right leg crossed over the other). When I was taken back for pre-op, the nurses quickly said that this little cut might cause my surgery to be delayed. Cats have a lot of bacteria on their claws, and so they are extra careful with cat scratches because of the risk of infection. After my surgeon looked at it, and said that it was ok to proceed because it was not near enough any of the incision areas, they shaved my legs and gave me an intraveneous anti-biotic and painkiller. The anesthesiologist briefly visited and explained his role in the procedure, and then it was go time.
My bed was wheeled back to the operating room, and I slid myself over from the bed to the operating table, unintentionally giving some of the surgical staff a free show. One of the surgical staff said that they would be giving me the anesthesia, and I would be asleep in about 60 seconds. I don't think it even took that long...
...and the next thing I recall, I was in my bed with some nurses around me, my legs bandaged and painful, and my head feeling very groggy. The nurses told me that I told the nurses I was going to make out with my wife and I asked them to bring me my kitty, neither of which happened, of course.
Apparently I made more incoherent conversation with the nurses and then Chris, who had talked with my surgeon while I was still asleep, was brought back so I could talk nonsense with her, too. I don't really remember much of the conversation, but at some point I was moved from my bed into a recliner, and given my crutches for a brief practice with them, before being wheeled out of the hospital to Chris' car. When we got home, I groggily made it up the stairs and plopped myself on the couch, where I've spent most of the past three days.
I was definitely in pain, intense at times, but I wouldn't call it excruciating. I've got a prescription for vicodin, which makes my legs feel better but has made me nauseous at times. Each of my three days since surgery I've less sharp pains in my legs but more muscle aches and pains. I didn't sleep much at all on Thursday night, but slept very well last night, and somewhat successfully made my first post-surgery visit outside the house, when Chris took me to Dunkin' Donuts this morning.
I'll learn more about my rehabilitation next Friday, when I go for my post-op visit with my surgeon, and until then at least I'll be on crutches and quite useless. I was told not to count on driving for four weeks, but that most people are back driving and feeling pretty well in 10 days to two weeks.
And my friend, Domo, who almost prevented my surgery?
He's been a nice little rehab friend.
For further reading about exertional compartment syndrome, here are two other patients' blogs that I've found to be very helpful:
Legs on Fire: My Experience with Compartment Syndrome
Life After Compartment Syndrome
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Yesterday was Higgy the cat's 16th birthday, and since he's been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, it's in all likelihood his last birthday, so we decided to make a really big deal of it to celebrate the life of our weird, furry, treasured friend.
I can't say that Higgy did not hate his race-car themed party hat, but he did enjoy tuna, cake, and ice cream. Not all at once...of course. That's just gross.
Higgy's favorite part of the party was probably that the kittens were not invited.
Monday, February 24, 2014
The time on the ship was relaxing and fun, but the highlights of the vacation were our two excursions in Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas.
In Nassau, we had the chance to cruise around town on Segways, which I can't recommend enough. We had guides and they did tell us stuff about Bahamian culture and history, which is very interesting, but all that edumacation is balanced out by riding around on such silly vehicles.
Our other excursion, in Freeport on Grand Bahama, was very educational. Our guide's pride in his island's culture and people just shone through in every word he spoke. We saw learned a lot, and saw many historical sites, and also had a chance to go snorkeling at a place called either "Paradise Cove" or "Dead Man's Reef", depending on which sign you looked at.
Here, at this gorgeous beach, I had a great time swimming and saw many beautiful fish. I made it back, but my until-then trusty watch did not. After a few minutes in the water, the time jumped an hour forward, causing me to think that our whole group was going to miss our ride back to the boat and be stuck at Dead Man's reef forever. I'll be honest, I wouldn't have really minded. A little while later, it stopped working altogether, and when I got out of the water it fluctuated between complete watch death and displaying nonsensical signals that probably signaled the Bahamian Apocalypse.
I took it to the jeweler last week to see if a new battery would save it, and he said the inside was corroded. While it's my fault for A) waiting months to take it in and B) thinking I could snorkel with a $40 watch, the watch was supposed to be water resistant up to 100 meters and it is branded "triathlon". If Timex is going to call a watch that, it should be able to go for a swim.